Third FAA Investigation Of The Airline In Two Years
The FAA has launched an
investigation into possible violations of safety directives by
Southwest Airlines, the third time the agency had looked into the
carrier's safety practices in two years.
The investigation is a repeat of the probe two years ago that
again looks at how the airline complies with FAA directives that
keep older airplanes safe. It also has similarities to last years'
case in which Southwest used unapproved parts on 82 airplanes.
The Dallas Morning News reports that Southwest could face tens
of millions of dollars in fines because more than 100,000 flights
have been conducted using 44 airplanes that may be out of
compliance. FAA inspectors are looking into allegations that
Southwest and a Seattle-area repair station did not conform to
federally approved procedures when making fuselage repairs.
The FAA said it could not offer
details about an ongoing investigation. Southwest spokesperson Beth
Harbin said "All of our maintenance operations promote aviation
safety by working in coordination with the FAA, equipment
manufacturers and aircraft maintenance organizations in every
effort to ensure that our fleet is maintained in accordance with
applicable regulations and is aligned with best practice in the
The case will focus on work performed by Aviation Technical
Services in Everett, WA. The company was contracted to replace skin
panels in order to satisfy safety directives requiring repeated
inspections that stemmed from cracks in the skins of some older
B737's. The company said it could not perform the work as mandated,
and suggested its own solution to the problem. The FAA says
Southwest approved those changes without seeking federal approval.
Under federal regulations, the airline is legally responsible for
flying aircraft which are determined not to be airworthy even if
repair and inspection work is contracted to another company.